Humanities & Culture

On, Alumnae: Jean Manchester

After her husband died in 1966, Manchester became a leader in the meat distribution industry, earning several career honors. Submitted photo

When Jean Manchester ’48’s husband died suddenly in 1966 and left her with four children, she took over the management of the family business, Neesvig’s Meat Company in Madison. She is thought to be the only woman in the nation to own and operate a wholesale meat distribution company at that time.

Under her leadership, Neesvig’s was one of the first wholesale meat companies to buy boxed beef, which reduced waste and promoted portion-controlled cuts for the hotel, restaurant, and institutional markets.

Manchester was the first woman elected to the National Association of Meat Purveyors and was inducted into the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame in 2001. She served on dozens of boards of directors and was the first woman to chair the UW Foundation board. She made it a point to help other women in business and was a founding member of Tempo Madison and The Business Forum, two professional women’s organizations.

Manchester also made gifts to the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology and supported UW scholarships. She was the founding chair of the UW Foundation’s Women’s Philanthropy Council and a founding board member of the board of visitors for the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology. In 1995, Manchester received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Wisconsin Alumni Association. She also received the United Way of Dane County Tocqueville Society Award in recognition of her many community involvements.

As part of the On Wisconsin women’s issue, see other UW alumnae you oughta know.

Published in the Summer 2019 issue


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